A little more than 20 years ago, I was called in to work on a Saturday, and as I drove down the street, something caught the corner of my eye. I figured I had to stop, just to see what it was... It was an Airline archtop acoustic...one string, broken nut, dirtier than a politician’s mind. It had obviously been abused and needed some love. It had the price of $5 on it. I opened my wallet, allowing the moths to fly away, and dug out all the money I had—a single $1 bill. I offered the Washington, they laughed and said, “Ok,” and I took it home. That evening, I cleaned it up and removed the penny rattling around inside (making it a “99c guitar, covered in dirt”—a lyric in a song I later wrote on the instrument, celebrating the trash that becomes treasure in someone else’s hands). The next week I did a horrible job of replacing the nut (the first and only time I’ve ever done so) but made it semi-playable and started messing around with it. Whoa—this one was really different. Weird fat-but-narrow neck, trapeze tailpiece, and archtop construction that projected very differently than my dreadnought. I called a friend who specialized in weird guitars; from the description and the serial number, he deduced it was made by the same company that made Silvertone, Kay and Harmony acoustics in Chicago around 1956. I don’t know if he’s right, but I’ll accept it—he knows more than me. Another weird thing...the guitar inspired me to write. Almost every time I picked it up, I’d write a new song...and good ones, too. Slide, fingerpicked, blues, rock, country, Americana, whatever—it made me prolific. I wrote several of the best songs I ever wrote on this one, including a song I wrote the day my grandmother died...that led me to naming the guitar after her, “Opal Faye.” The guitar reminded me of her—old-fashioned, abused but glamorous, inspirational and able to make beautiful art (she painted and did calligraphy as a hobby). A series of unfortunate events led me to have to put it (and another acoustic) up for collateral for a loan from my dad. (he’s weird like that). Somehow it ended up in my wastrel brother’s possession for a period, and it ended up in a barn for a few years...a non-climate-controlled barn in Texas. Hot summers, cold damp winters. It didn’t help the already-poor construction. The neck glue let loose (fortunately there was no tension on the strings), and the (poorly) replaced nut shattered. Eventually, I happened across it in the barn, and asked if I could buy it back. My father (upset and ashamed that it had been taken out of his closet without his permission and then abused by my sibling) said, “Take it. It looks like you’ll have to spend some money on it to make it work again.” He also gave me back the other acoustic I’d given to him; I’d long-since paid back the loan, but had never collected these two guitars for some reason. I took it home, but circumstances prevented me from getting any work done on it. It sat in the corner of my lair for a couple more years. To get it playable again would cost more than it was worth (monetarily)... Then one day I recalled an acquaintance who’d built and re-built several acoustic guitars—both traditional-style instruments and even a few weirdos, like the acoustic he built out of old pallets (it weighs a ton but sounds really good...I’m trying to talk him into selling it to me). I asked him to look at it and see what he could do. After an unsuccessful attempt to melt and reuse the old hide glue, he removed it and reglued/reset the neck. He then replaced the nut, shaved down the bridge to make the action usable and cleaned up the frets. He polished it up, but at my request left the scratches and visible signs of abuse. He refused to take any money; he said it reminded him of the guitars he used to GAS over in the Montgomery Wards catalogs he had as a kid (he’s in his 70’s), and was glad it would be played again. It’s now playable again, and sounds rich, loud and zingy (the way an archtop should)...and it still has that weird mojo that inspires songwriting. I’ve written three and a half songs on it in the month I’ve had it back. My daughter noticed the same thing—she said it made her approach playing differently and made her want to try new chord patterns and riffs. So I’m announcing the joyous resurrection of Opal Faye.